by Rob Williams on December 27, 2006 in Motherboards
When the 680i chipset was launched last month, it proved to have exactly what the enthusiast was after. However, most of those boards range in the $250 area. ASUS has just released their new P5N-E SLI board which offers the 650i chipset. It’s a scaled down version of it’s bigger brother, but costs far less and still contains a huge punch for enthusiasts.
Throughout all of our benchmarks regardless of what we are reviewing, testing is done in a clean and stand-alone version of Windows XP Professional with SP2. Prior to testing, these conditions are met:
- Desktop and scrap files are cleaned up, including emptying of recycle bin.
- No virus scanner or firewall is installed in the stand-alone installation.
- The stand-alone installation drive is completely defragged using Diskeeper 2007 Professional.
- All unnecessary programs are closed, so that Windows should have no more than 15 active processes running.
- Computer has proper airflow.
The testing rig used for today’s benchmarking is as follows:
- CPU: Intel E6300 @ 1.86GHz – 3.33GHz
- Motherboard: ASUS P5N-E SLI (11/22 BIOS)
- Memory: Corsair DOMINATOR 2GB PC2-9136
- Video: ASUS EN8800GTX 768MB
- Sound: Onboard HD Audio
- Storage: Seagate 7200.9 320GB
- Etcetera: Windows XP Professional w/ SP2
- Cooling: Corsair Nautilus 500
That system isn’t really representative of a normal computer, since it’s a true combination of value and high-end parts, but I’m strange like this. This is also the first Core 2 Duo motherboard I’ve reviewed, so I am not going to delve deep into the results, since I really have no basis for comparison. Instead, I am going to go graph-less with this one, and present the results from both the stock speed and also my highest stable overclock. I am also avoiding GPU specific benchmarks for this review, since that will have even less meaning than the benchmarks below.
As you can see from our performance results, this board is not going to hold back. Given the fact that this board retails for $140 and the CPU for $190, there is incredible performance to be seen here. Granted, the setup was water cooled, but it certainly won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get some serious performance nowadays.
In the end, I have to recommend the board despite the quirky DDR2 issues. Bear in mind, if you purchase the board, don’t expect high ram overclocks. You may prefer to wait it out to see what the beta BIOS offers, which “should” take care of these issues. If it does, then this is one explosive motherboard for the price range. While 680i boards retail for $250 at a minimum, you can have this step down for $140 and -still- have your SLI support. Granted the board is not as feature-rich as it’s bigger brother, but we are taking about a product that’s around 45% cheaper.
As it stands, I love this motherboard. Aside from the memory issues, this is a board that even hardcore overclockers will want to give a try. Not too many motherboards will handle up to 500FSB with such ease, but this one does.
Of course there are things that do hold this board back from having a superb score, but even that aside I am awarding the P5N-E an 8 out of 10. There are a few things that I have to quickly gripe about though. There is no heatsink on the MCP chipset.. why? I cannot completely rip the board apart for this though, because it did -not- hold me back from a top overclock. Even with a fan pointing at it, it did me little good. Your situation may be different though. I highly encourage anyone who is planning on big overclocks to purchase a southbridge heatsink, or even place a fan at the bottom of your case to blow air towards it.
Another problem is that whenever I failed an overclock, there was an 80% chance that I would have to get into the computer and play with the BIOS switches in order to reset it. When I reviewed the M2N32-SLI Deluxe board a few months ago, I was impressed by the fact that it was incredibly difficult to completely overdo an overclock. Even if your OC was unstable, it would still boot in order to let you change the settings to something more suitable. That’s not the case here though. I many times had to go into my tower and manually reset the BIOS… which is not only time consuming, but tiresome after doing it 10 times in an evening ;-)
I wholeheartedly believe this board warrants an 8 out of 10 score. If this new BIOS fixes the memory problems as I hope it does, then it will also earn itself an Editors Choice award, but I am withholding that for the time being to see how it plays out. It’s hard to go wrong. I look forward to seeing other 650i motherboards emerge, and intend to take a few for a spin myself to see how they compare to this one.
If you are in the market for a great OC’er now and don’t mind the DDR2 issue, you can feel confident by picking this one up.
- Superb CPU overclocker
- Pricetag ($140)
- Ability to back up your BIOS to thumb drive
- Vista ready
- No SB heatsink???
- Memory overclocking limit
- Failed overclocks may result in the need to manually reset BIOS